Social media and what we think of as DIY culture today are incredibly interconnected. Shows are organized on Facebook, with attendance being estimated based on the number of “goings” and “maybes,” videos of bands performing are publicized through Instagram stories. Even Twitter plays a part in allowing bands to personally connect with fans via memes and rants. As society progresses further and further into the digital age, DIY stands as a prime example of social media’s influence on our communities.
However, sometimes I wish this weren’t the case. In an ongoing effort to limit my social media usage, I’m constantly held back by the thought that if I’m not constantly online, I’ll lose touch with my local community. If I delete my Facebook, how will I ever know when there’s a show going on? Or if I don’t check my Twitter, how am I supposed to stay informed about which independent labels I should or should not support?
Of course, word of mouth is still a viable way to hear about shows and events in the community, and every once in a while posters for shows emerge around campus (groups like MEMCO do a great job of this). But I feel like these two tactics have taken a much more subservient roll to the internet. In 2019, feel as if DIY promotion is mostly contained within screens. These events were probably talked about in-person much more extensively in the past, and flyering was probably a much more important promotional tactic a few years ago, but now it almost feels like a novelty of sorts.
Part of the appeal of local music and DIY is the community that it fosters, and the relationships it builds between people through art. It’s entirely possible to build and maintain a community through social media, but I think to really build a strong community, connecting with people face-to-face is something that cannot be undervalued, especially in environments outside of shows. Seeing the community in person outside of venues is something that seems to have come to a halt. It seems as if DIY only exists on the Internet and in basements for a few nights every month.
Some artists, like Philadelphia-based Absinthe Father, have an incredibly strong presence on social media, and attract fans (like me, for instance) that have never been to one of their shows in person. Their tweets regularly go viral, and attract new fans to their music daily. On the opposite end of the spectrum, groups like Hotline TNT, a band that I discovered through a car ride with a friend, merely have a YouTube channel that they upload their music on, with no other social media. I have no idea how long the band has been around, who’s in the group, or where they’re from, but I know that I really like their music. The band’s lack of an online presence is something of a rarity among bands nowadays, and almost seems like a factor that’s restricted them from growing, unfortunately. It seems much harder to succeed without some sort of online presence.
I’m definitely coming off as a grouchy old man here. I really do think the Internet has exposed a completely new audience to DIY, and has even made it more accessible to certain groups of people that may not have heard about these shows and events before. But I think there’s a bit of an imbalance between the online and offline community. Tell someone you don’t know as well about a show coming up, or maybe talk to your local record store about having a bulletin board of local events and shows. I’m not saying that everyone should hang up and hang out, but I do think that there’s something special about expanding the community outside of the Internet.